Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem a week before he was arrested, crucified and raised from the dead three days later.
Jesus descended the Mount of Olives seated on a donkey as men, women and children shouted and sang knowing that, by this act, Jesus had proclaimed himself to be the longed for Messiah. They all knew the prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9). After crossing the Kidron Valley, He entered Jerusalem through the eastern gate.
Around the world Christians will gather to celebrate this historic event. Last year over 2,000 children took part in a procession in St. Petersburg, Russia; Christian youth waved palm branches in northern Iraq; believers gathered for services in Beijing, Shenzhen and Wenzhou, China; Christians danced in Palm Sunday processions in Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana. Hundreds of millions around the world will gather for worship and remembrance.
Four weeks ago I stood at the spot where Palm Sunday took place. From the Mount of Olives, where He began his journey astride the donkey, I could see the sealed up eastern gates of ancient Jerusalem. Our Jewish guide told us that the Muslim occupation had sealed up the gates to prevent the Jewish Messiah from entering.
With my friends, I read Ezekiel 44:2, “This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.” I was reminded that Jesus, fulfilling all Messianic prophecy, had already entered.
Jesus predicted what would happen. He would be crucified and raised from the dead. There would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines. Evil would continue to increase. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. … For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24)
He promised that when He returns He will judge the earth, all evil will be abolished and He will establish a new heaven and a new earth where men will dwell in peace with one another and with God. (Revelation 21).
Like those who lined his route two thousand years ago, this Palm Sunday believers from around the world will raise their voices to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the King. As they do so, they not only look back to that historic day when Jesus first entered Jerusalem. They look forward to a day when He will return.